Providing access to high quality books for all types of readers is a premise for cultural democracy. Many people, however, have challenges reading mainstream books. There might be diverse reasons why people find reading challenging. Some examples are reading impairments, reduced vision, cognitive impairments, learning a new language, or due to stress, fatigue or illness. To ensure everyone access to literature, it is therefore vital to produce books that can (and will) be read by a wide range of users. This case study addresses the following research questions: Do adapted books represent accessible or universal design? Can adapted books be perceived as motivating to read for all types of readers? Are “special books” necessary to ensure that all users have access to high quality literature? In Norway, the association Books for Everyone develops adapted, printed fictional books to accommodate various types of reading challenges. This paper examines the production of these books and uses this collection to investigate the research questions. The main finding is that most of the books by Books for Everyone can be considered examples of universal design, rather than “special books” directed at a very narrow user group. Moreover, there seems to be a limited need for “special books”, except for books targeting readers with severe cognitive or sensory impairments. By applying the universal design approach, fictional literature can potentially make books more accessible for all types of readers.
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